Friday, November 20, 2009

Bit by a hedgehog and square touch painting

I got bit by a hedgehog today. I was visiting a woman who had the animal in a cage. She indicated it was friendly and handed it to me. It was friendly, but it bit me anyway, and it took a while to let go. I told her that the hedgehog and I were not going to be close.

Here's that location in Vermont again. It hasn't changed much. I am using this location for my next blue night scene. I will post some pictures of my progress for you.

I have made arrangements with the Sunset Hill Inn for the Snow painting workshop. Here is a picture of the inn. It is in the White Mountains in an absolutely spectacular location near Franconia, New Hampshire. It is on a lot of acreage so we don't even have to leave the grounds to paint unless we want to. That means that if your feet get cold, you can run inside for coffee and a warm up by the fire. I can't believe what a great place for a workshop this is. How New England!

I will tell you more about the snow painting workshop soon. The Inn has made us a fabulous rate, because we will take a block of rooms, assuming we get enough sign ups. This will include Breakfast and dinner. A number of you have e-mailed me already. I have not set the dates yet. Lets talk. Some want January, and some want February. Do I do two workshops? What would you like? Let me know. Here is a link to their site.

I am going to talk just a little tonight about "square touch" painting. I got a question yesterday about that. As many of you know I am strongly influenced by the historic Rockport school of painting. One of the things that characterizes that style is square touch. It is a kind of brushwork. Here is a bit of painting with a square touch by Aldro Hibbard, a master of the technique.

If you look at the painting you can see it is made from square marks made by a flat brush. That gives the artist several advantages. The first is that it gives a structural look. It allows the creation of clear planar representation of the form and the different planes or facets of an object can be painted in different colors or temperatures.

The second advantage of square touch is it gives a kind of pixilation. Rather than smoothing the painting out into a infinitely rendered appearance, the square brush mark is the unit of construction. If something is smaller than that mark it is effectively edited out, thus simplifying the representation. I think it is a powerful and interesting look in a painting and I generally have some degree of square touch in my work. Too much smoothing of the surfaces in a painting can give a slick or flaccid look. In a landscape square touch seems to me ideal for representing the texture and ruggosity of nature. I don't think it is so great for painting portraits of delicate little girls, but outside with rocks and snow and weeds it is great.

I plan on doing another reader critique. If you want to be a part of that e-mail me a reasonably sized image of a painting at put the word critique in the subject line please. I will gather those for a week or so. I am going to limit submissions to landscapes as I feel most comfortable critiquing those online. Portraits, etc, it is best to critique with the model present. I remove signatures from the art I crit and I will not disclose whose art it is that I select.

Also I am going to write an "Ask Stape post for the Fine Arts Views site and I could use some questions. If you have art questions for me please e-mail those in and I will direct you to that post when it happens. Thanks.


Richard J. Luschek II said...

I wonder what hedgehog hair brushes would be like.

willek said...

The best cure for hedgehog bite is a quill of the hog that bit you, but you probably already knew that.

Very interesting about the square touch, stape. I noticed a lot of it in Jeff Weaver's Gloucester scenes.

I had an interesting thought about that scene you put up that you are going to turn into a night scape. How about if we all did our version of the photo and turned them in for your crit... Now that would be kind of like home work, something no other blog does... and it would all be capped off with your eventual version. So we could see how you handled the problems we encountered.

Gregory Becker said...

This is a great example of what I love about your blog. The technique is explained very well. Along with a superb example of the technique on display.
Then an explanation of why the technique has the power to bring such strength to a painting.
And we as artist can now apply that knowlege at our own discretion without actually having to try copying a Hibbard.
This is the kind of knowlege that doesn't wiegh a person down but rather lightens the load.
Thank you so much for this blog Stape.

Unknown said...

Is the hedgehog okay?

Great explanation of the square touch. I watched you do some of that in the workshop here - and it is a "look" I'd like to aim for. Direction of brushstrokes matter in describing planes - something I've been thinking about alot lately anyway.

I like Willek's idea -

armandcabrera said...

Great post. Your story about the hedgehog illustrates why people shouldn't keep wild animals in cages or anywhere else for that matter.
Stanhope Forbes used the square touch painting technique quite effectively for his figures of Newlyn, along the coast in England. It seems to have fallen out of favor with figure painters these days. It seems to convey an authoritative way of putting down the paint on a canvas though and I love seeing it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

These were leathery, not like quills from a porcupine. I can't think they would be much good for anything other than rendering one unpalatable.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thats a good idea, but I don't think it makes good sense to do it on an image that I am using to make a bluem night scene. That is my own personal idiosyncracy. I don't want to teach people to imitate me I want to teach them the tools their own things.
We can return to that idea though.

I have avoided hedgehog bites in the past by avoiding the little guys entirely. I am going back to that.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I believe the hog forgot the whole matter immediately.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't think this guy was ever wild or his recent progenitors either. He is sort of like a guinea pig I think. Evidently, in England, gardeners keep them, as they are insectivores.
He eats hedgehog kibble, I wonder whats in that?

Deborah Paris said...

Ouch! Looking forward to seeing your posts on the new nocturne.

billspaintingmn said...

Whatch out for the hedgehogs!
That bit on square touch painting
is helpful Stape!
Seems to add too instead of take
away, I'll try this on my next painting.

Mark Bridges said...

If any one wanted to repaint this location it's Sand Beach in Acadia NP.